It’s a stereotypical American restaurant. A long bar, where single people chat with waitresses, some cooks from Russia and Mexico exchange their remarks on the meals that are being prepared. Every now and then someone comes in and out. Almost all tables are taken, so I sit at the bar and drink a black coffee, with a refill as always. There’s that elderly man who reads the local newspaper, next to him just a single cheeseburger with fries and a wrinkled napkin. Some people talk, but most care only about the cleanliness of their cell screen.
I just walked a dozen kilometers along San Diego Bay and met only a handful of people without a phone in their hand. I’m sipping my coffee and pulling out my mobile to write down a few thoughts. Apparently, every day single individual is checking the screen of his mobile device more than a hundred times. Each time it takes at least a few seconds to process it. Okay, so let me do a few seconds of thoughtless reflex – pull the phone out of your pocket, unlock it, look at the time and new notifications. Lock it, put it in your pocket – it’s a few seconds of your life. Let’s multiply several of those ‘few seconds‘ of your life, depending on how many times you check the screen status each day. 5 seconds times 120 times a day? 10 minutes. What about 10 seconds? It’s 20 minutes. Jesus Christ … 20 minutes a day wasted on the screen of a fucking phone. It is almost 2.5 hours per week, almost 10 hours per month. Annually 120 hours. 5 days. Fuck, 5 days a year to check the mobile screen. And you know what is frustrating? That I am a witness and a follower myself. I check the screen every now and then, although I try to change this habit. So I hid my phone with the notes in my pocket, I take out three dollars and leave it on the counter. ‘Thank you, Jane. By the way, do you know how to get to the Old Town from here?’ I ask, not to pull the phone out and check the map. ‘It’s right there. Go to the other side of the street and behind the transport station you will find the entrance.‘ I smile and say goodbye. I’ve got a hat on my head and glasses on my nose, because this sun is burning me alive. Wonderful feeling.
The old town in San Diego is the oldest European settlement in this part of North America. Of course, both Granada and Leon are older – both in present-day Nicaragua – but San Diego was The Place of The Oldest Settlement in the USA. Today, it is a kind of a tourist El Dorado – several buildings transferred from the time of the great American expansion, Mexico and Wild West in one. Students dressed in costumes from the eighteenth and nineteenth century welcoming tourists in small museums, shops with root beer and beef jerky. In the old stable you can see old carts and reins, which cowboys used centuries ago. I am passing a fluffy middle-aged couple who do not want to get to the first floor because of the stairs. Two Korean girls take a photo with an old saddle. A young Californian with long blond hair, a cap and sunglasses, smokes a joint and tells the story of this place to his friend, also Californian – with long blond hair, white smile, tanned skin and a T-shirt from Sunday Funday in San Juan del Sur. I smile at them saying that I lived there for several months. ‘Wow dude! We were there about a half year ago. Awesome party!‘. We talk for a while, then I turn back and head for Balboa Park. It’s supposedly one of the prettiest city parks in this part of the US.
I turn thirty soon.
Still a big child; still intact and lost in impreciseness. Still no doctorate. I’m missing exactly a million for my first million. My figure resembles a more current (Brazilian) Ronaldo than the one of the current (Portuguese) Ronaldo. I do not make a career in a corporation. I do not have a house in the suburbs, or a spacious apartment in the city center. I do not live in Krakow, in Barcelona or in London. I do not go to a good beer house and do not drink sophisticated IPAs and APAs. I do not drink wine from expensive glasses whilst reading with my partner. I do not win the lottery. I do not have a son or daughter. I do not have my own company, investment or capital. I do not save for my retirement. I did not quit alcohol, although I still drink only beer. I still do not take drugs, I still do not smoke weed. I take care of my body when I remember it, but the irregular lifestyle and a million external stimuli make me unable to withstand more than a few weeks.
And I always say to myself that next time it will be serious. I make plans, usually in me-own-head, but sometimes I also write it down. In a fit of inspiration I grab a marker pen and draw stuff on a piece of paper. I create complicated plans for my future and the near present. I know I will be a millionaire and I will do this PhD’s. I will publish something new, because nothing has gone public for a long time. I will make normal money again. I will not be in a constant travel mood and I will visit friends and family. I will spend time in the English mountains, I will barbecue with my mum in the Polish garden and sit with the guys in one of the Krakow’s pub. I will order both IPAs and APAs and I will order some more lager. You know what? Whatever, I will also order a cocktail. Maybe I will buy a car, although I will sooner get on a bicycle. I will try what it is like to live in one place for half year or even a year. I will write a book and maybe even publish it. I will eat well and regularly, sleep at specific times and breathe like Iceman himself.
My life will not be just about traveling.
I am from the generation that cannot make decision. I have the impression that we – the people of this generation – are trying to minimize the number of decisions made, because they frustrate us. We feel that the alternatives are multiplying themselves. With each moment there are more and more alternatives, each with novelties but also more doubts. We stand and listen to the buzzing of various options, we try to weigh the opinions and we hysterically throw ourselves onto random decisions.
I have the impression that I am from a generation that is notoriously losing something. I have the impression that we are living our lives from failure to failure. We treat ourselves like experimental rabbits, checking how much we can survive. We bind ourselves to partnerships with no future, we snare disliked jobs and responsibilities. We are worried about everyday life, believing that tomorrow will be better. We are a post-product of civilization changes. We try to blend in with this world, but we break down like plastic – too slowly, unnaturally, until there is a new bacterium that will consume us.
My bacteria is the travel. I feel etched with the thought of traveling. Every day I take a new thing to do – not because the situation requires it, but because I feel an irresistible urge to try something new. Since I moved out of my family house years ago, I have lived for at least two months in six countries, in 11 cities on two-and-a-half continents. I tried to be in a corporation, in a freelance job. I was a bartender, warehouse worker, media planner and strategist. The seller and the trimmer. A receptionist and an employee of a plastic factory. I worked on the construction site and as a night watchman. I visited 41 countries of the world, which according to the Internet is 19% of all the countries in the world. I am not a millionaire, I do not have a house and a tree, son or daughter. I did not manage so many of these well-known and valued goals of a young man. But you know what? I really like my life. I do what people who I admired as a kid did. I am happy to learn about new places and people every day. I am glad that I do not have to have a phone in me-own-hand ninety percent of the day time.
It’s a difficult life … believe me, damn hard. It does not give you as much satisfaction as you could assume, but the moments when you feel the wind on your face after a few kilometers on your feet, in a new place on the world map … Yeah, you see stars over the Pacific, and somewhere on the left you hear The-City-slash-Border, that you crossed onto just a week ago … this feeling gives a lot of satisfaction.
I often wonder what my generation will look like in 10 years. How many of my friends have already given up their ideal careers and found themselves in the villages, selling flowers, building houses and working in some random places. How many of them threw themselves in the reverse gear, parked somewhere between the cities and threw the car keys on the shoulder. Every day I meet people who left their homes and threw themselves into the whirl of advertised Everyday Life Plc. Their Everyday Life Plc is basically eighth AM to seventh PM, Monday to Friday, and than an extreme weekend party. It’s a flower bought at the florist once a month and refreshment of your apartment once every five years. This is the time at the busy, public seaside, where there is no place for breathing, but you do not have to plan anything. Everyday rushing on a cluttered muzzle. Everyday life understood as a disease. How many of my friends will find peace and happiness in everyday life understood differently?